§ Mr. Miller
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the checking procedures into(a) carers in children's homes and (b) owners of children's homes with particular reference to persons suspected of being under investigation or who have been subject to investigation by (i) the police and (ii) other authorities. 
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 6 November 2000]: The Department maintains a list under the Protection of Children Act of persons considered to be unsuitable to work with children. The Department for Education and Employment maintains a separate list of persons barred from working in educational establishments. The Protection of Children Act 1999 requires all regulated child care organisations (including all children's homes) to check against these lists everyone they intend to employ in work that brings them into contact with children. Criminal record checks are also available and where the person being employed will have regular unsupervised contact with children the information supplied will include relevant non-conviction information.
The Children Act 1989 Guidance, Volume 4 sets out the types of checks that are expected on staff and others in children's homes with regular contact with children.
A thorough investigation is made into any organisation or private individual applying to set up a registered voluntary or private children's home. This includes making reference checks with both employment and personal referees. Applicants are asked to supply details of their employment history. Applicants must satisfy the registration authority that they have relevant experience and qualifications. If it appears that further investigation is needed the registration authority can ask the police to check if the applicant has a criminal record. These arrangements will be extended in 2001 to small private unregistered children's homes which will be required to register with local authorities for the first time.
In the future, with the introduction of the National Care Standards Commission, there will be a nationwide, comprehensive set of national minimum standards for all children's homes. These will set out the type of checks required on those owning and working in children's homes.